The Washington Nationals dropped game two of a three-game series with the St. Louis Cardinals 7-5 on Wednesday night in front of a crowd of 25,771 bundled up baseball fans. Right-handed starting pitcher Doug Fister took the mound for Washington in his second career appearance against the Cardinals, who went right to work on offense.
The Cardinals’ third baseman Matt Carpenter crushed his sixth career leadoff home run against Fister before Washington’s starter settled in and escaped the first inning with two strikeouts and Carpenter’s one run scored.
St. Louis continued their offensive output with a two-out, two-run homer by second baseman Kolten Wong off Fister in the second inning making it a 3-0 ballgame. The Cardinals tacked on another pair of runs one inning later, putting the Nats down by five runs, but Fister and the Nats gained offensive momentum in the bottom half of the third.
Fister’s single with one out in the third inning off right-handed starting pitcher John Lackey was the Nats’ second hit of the night and helped spark the rally that tied up the game at five runs each. Washington tallied five runs on five hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly hit by outfielder Jayson Werth in the third inning against Lackey. Outfielder Denard Span, shortstop Ian Desmond, outfielder Bryce Harper, and first baseman Ryan Zimmerman all managed to hit singles off of Lackey, but third baseman Yunel Escobar’s three-run, two-out double is the reason Washington tied the game up at five runs each.
Once he found a groove, Fister — with the help of a productive defense — held the Cardinals to five runs. Fister gave up seven hits, five runs (four earned), and two home runs while striking out three and walking two batters. Fister threw 104 pitches and 69 strikes.
Left-handed relief pitcher Matt Grace replaced Fister in the seventh inning for the Nats. Grace flew in from Syracuse, NY on Wednesday and was a last-minute addition to the roster. According to Manager Matt Williams, Grace’s plane landed just about an hour before the evening’s scheduled game time. But Grace made it in time to pitch in his Major League debut at Nationals Park.
Grace pitched one inning and walked one batter while fending off an aggressive Cardinals lineup, but Washington’s bullpen couldn’t hold on to the lead after that despite his quality performance.
Right-handed reliever Blake Treinen was charged with the loss and pitched the eighth inning for Washington. Treinen gave up the lead after walking outfielder Jon Jay with one out and giving up back-to-back hits — including a single to catcher Yadier Molina and a double to Wong — which resulted in St. Louis taking a 6-5 lead.
The Cardinals gained a cushion run in the ninth inning when first baseman Mike Adams hit a solo home run off right-handed reliever Rafael Martin. St. Louis maintained their two-run, 7-5 lead over Washington and shutdown their offensive line to end the game.
HERO: Escobar for his two-out double in the third inning that tied up the game but also to Werth for his one-out sacrifice fly to right field that kept the momentum of that sole Nats rally moving steady.
GOAT: Treinin for blowing a win opportunity for Fister, especially after Grace pitch so well one inning prior and seeing Fister settle into a place where he’s inducing groundballs.
- The introduction of Matt Grace to the bullpen made for the third MLB debut for a Nats reliever this week.
- Zimmerman’s hustle down the first baseline was like watching a gazelle do what it’s meant to do. He beat out two tight plays at first with a final stride that imitated a first baseman’s stretch.
UP NEXT: Michael Wacha (2-0, 1.35) and the St. Louis Cardinals face Max Scherzer (1-1, 0.83) and the Washington Nationals in D.C. at 4:05 p.m. to close out their three-game series.